Posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 by Adam Quigley
The issue of Banksy‘s anonymity isn’t the only point of contention hanging over this coming Sunday’s Oscar festivities. The artist-turned-filmmaker’s picture, Exit Through the Gift Shop, is anticipated to take home the award for Best Documentary, but is it actually a documentary? That niggling concern has resulted in much debate ever since the film’s first screening at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and now more than ever, the need for cogent confirmation on the matter has become something of a necessity.
This raises the question: Where has Mr. Brainwash been throughout all of this? Banksy recently spoke out about the veracity of the film, proclaiming that it’s “100% true”. It’s no surprise that he’d make such a claim; he directed the film. But what of the man whose image could have conceivably been tarnished by the film? Where does he stand regarding the film’s authenticity, and does he constitute a credible source? Read what he had to say after the break.
Note: This article contains spoilers for Exit Through the Gift Shop.
For the first time since the film’s release in the spring of 2010, Thierry Guetta — the eccentric French videographer who went on to play a prominent role in the street art movement under the pseudonym Mr. Brainwash — openly discussed his involvement in the film in an interview with The Envelope.
Guetta got right to the point:
This movie is 100% real. Banksy captured me becoming an artist. In the end, I became his biggest work of art.
One could interpret that last sentence in many different ways, but another comment Guetta made more or less confirms that Banksy was very deliberate in his effort to turn Mr. Brainwash into the latest cultural sensation.
He gives me a brush and a can, and he took the camera. ‘Go make your own show and have people filming it.’
So there you have it. The truth about Exit Through the Gift Shop unveiled.
If we’re to trust Guetta’s claims (and I do), Exit Through the Gift Shop shall retain its status as a legitimate documentary — despite Banksy being very purposeful (read: deceptive) in how he presented his involvement in Guetta’s surprise success. Banksy may not be Mr. Brainwash, but he sure as hell wasn’t acting naively when he contributed to Mr. Brainwash’s creation. In fact, Banksy even told Guetta what month the show should open — a telling insight, considering that Banksy had to send a ‘fixer’ to help make sure the show was ready in time.
All of this just goes to show how prescient Banksy was about the response that Mr. Brainwash’s art would generate, which to me makes the film (and Banksy) all the more fascinating.
Also in the article are comments from those who were close to Guetta, such as Joachim Levy, who helped “organize, label, log and edit” the thousands of hours of footage from Guetta’s tapes into LIFE REMOTE CONTROL, part of which was featured in Exit Through the Gift Shop. He too confirms that the film is “almost entirely true”, but is none too pleased by it. He’s threatening to sue Banksy — and reveal his identity — unless he’s paid and credited for his purported contributions.
The rest of the article provides additional context for some of the film’s other glossed over details, and a very thorough breakdown of Guetta’s history and rise to stardom, so those eager to learn more should head over there.